Bayelsa Gas Leak: Residents Decry Impact On Koluama Communities

Residents at Koluama communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa have bemoaned the negative impact of a gas leak from an oilfield in the area.

The people of Koluama reported an explosion from Agulo oilfield operated by Conoil Producing in the area on February 4, 2018.

James Epigo who resides in Koluama 1 community said on the telephone Friday that the gaseous discharge from the oilfields forced residents to flee the area.

“As at Monday, the whole community was deserted because the gas leak was choking people as it polluted the air so well all left the community for our safety.”

“The oil company officials battled for more than a day between Sunday and Monday to stop the gas leak before returned back to the community and the place is now calm.”

“The incident caused a lot of inconvenience to the entire community,” Epigo said.

Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Central Zone, has threatened to disrupt operations at the oilfield over the company’s alleged failure to address the gas explosion at its Agulo oilfield, wells 4 and 5, in Koluama, Bayelsa.

Porri lamented that since the explosion occurred on Monday, nothing had been done to tackle the explosion which spills had spread to other communities near Koluama, Tamazo area of the state.

“Today, we are very pained and Ijaw youths, especially Koluama clan, have mobilized massively to invade the Conoil facilities in that domain.” 

“We are, therefore, using this forum to call on the authorities of the oil company that we are giving them within the next 24 hours to send their officials to address the issue that is currently going on at an oilfield, well 4 and 5  gas explosion.”  

“If nothing was done within the ultimatum period, Ijaw youths will have no other choice but to vent their anger at the firm’s operational sites,” he said.

However, a security consultant with Conoil Producing, Mr. Bello Bina, said that the incident was an operational procedure to ascertain the viability of the gas reserves.

Bina, in a statement issued in Yenagoa, said that the smoke noticed from the oil well heads was routine testing and clearing of a gas well before the resumption of normal gas operation.

“What the company is doing is test running its gas wells and it is not a dangerous activity,” Bina said.

Also, Mr. Alagoa Morris, Head of Field Operations at Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) said the group received reports of the incident from residents.

“The incident was reported to ERA/FoEN and we are planning a site visit to the oilfield but we urge the oil firm to convene a Joint Investigative visit with regulators and a community representative to examine what happened.”

“It is not enough to say that the incident is of no impact, only a scientific investigation will provide a clue, that is the best practice and we will not accept anything less,” Morris said.

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